Implementing Safety Culture at Your Construction Site - Chapter 2
Did you know that unclear communication is one of the leading causes of accidents on construction sites? Besides this, unclear communication adversely affects other areas, like lower team productivity resulting in cost overruns.
By focusing on clear communication, we can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on the job. So, let’s take a moment to talk about how we can make sure our messages are getting across loud and clear. From simple language to visual aids, we have tips and tricks to help you communicate with your whole team. Ready to improve your safety game? Let’s get started.
The challenges of communicating clearly with a diverse workforce
1. Language Barriers
If workers speak different languages, it can be challenging to convey safety messages effectively. Using interpreters or providing safety training materials in multiple languages can help overcome this challenge.
2. Cultural Differences
Different cultures may have different attitudes toward safety and communication methods. For example, some cultures may emphasise hierarchy and deference to authority, while others may value more open communication. Furthermore, cultural differences also highly influence the perception of risk at the individual level. For context, a native British might have a different perception of risk about skipping a red light at a crossroads while driving from that of a native Indian. Thus it becomes imperative to understand these cultural differences and adjust communication strategies accordingly.
3. Literacy Levels
Workers with lower literacy levels may need help understanding written safety materials. Using visual aids, videos, or hands-on training can be effective alternatives.
4. Technological Barriers
Some workers may not be used to comfortably communicating over a digital medium such as emails. Alternatively, communication channels, such as simple communication apps or print materials, might help.
To overcome these challenges, it’s essential to develop communication strategies that consider the diverse backgrounds and needs of the workforce. Let’s look at some strategies in the next section.
Strategies for Communicating Safety Messages Effectively
1. Use Simple Language
Safety messages should be easy to understand, even for workers with limited English proficiency or lower literacy levels. Avoid using technical jargon or complex terminology. Where possible, delivering content in the native languages of workers can be an effective way to ensure comprehension. This facilitates a more inclusive environment and directly caters to the diverse linguistic backgrounds within the workforce.
2. Use Chatbots with Multi-lingual support
Continuing from the preceding point, by implementing a chatbot on a construction site, workers can easily access important safety information and get real-time feedback on any concerns or questions. Chatbots like Saifety.ai that come with multi-lingual support can act as a game-changer.
3. Use Specialised Communication Applications
While popular apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger may seem like an easy solution for communication on a construction site, they may not be the best choice for ensuring secure and effective communication. Instead, specialised communication applications designed for construction sites can help ensure workers receive and understand safety messages. These applications often include translation services, push notifications, and document sharing. They may also have built-in safety checklists or incident reporting systems. Employers can use a specialised communication application to ensure workers receive timely and accurate safety information, regardless of location or language barriers.
4. Visual Aids
Using visual aids, such as diagrams or videos, can help reinforce safety messages and make them more memorable. For instance, a video demonstration illustrating the proper use of a tool might prove more effective than written instructions alone, as it engages the viewer in a more dynamic and accessible manner, transcending language barriers. Special recognition is due to Jincom, an organisation at the forefront of developing a comprehensive range of visual solutions to strengthen workplace safety.
Using diagrams and visual aids of real data can significantly enhance safety in construction, especially when live data on safety inspection and worker behavior is available.
5. Encourage Feedback
Shifting the focus of safety management from a policing approach to a more positive and collaborative model emphasises recognising and understanding successes rather than solely identifying failures. Engage Workers in Site Safety and Encouraging Workers to ask questions, provide feedback, or suggest improvements to safety procedures allows for exploring what went right and why, rather than merely criticising deviations from the prescribed methods. This perspective promotes a shared commitment to correctly understanding and implementing safety messages, fostering a culture where continuous improvement and the vast majority of successes are celebrated and emulated.
Lastly, it’s also important to regularly evaluate communication strategies and adjust them as needed to ensure that messages are received and understood. With clear and effective communication, employers can promote a safety culture and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on their construction site.
In conclusion, effective communication is not just a box to tick off in a construction safety checklist; it is the key to unlocking a safety culture on your site.
But this is just the beginning, and observing the construction industry’s exceptional approach to welcoming evolution and adaptation is inspiring. The industry’s mindset is shifting from adherence to traditional methods to integrating modern technologies. A focus on rewarding success rather than penalising failure is rapidly gaining traction. This positive and proactive stance towards safety—contrasted with the former reactive approach—paves the way for a more secure and inclusive work environment. Stay tuned for the upcoming chapters in this series, where we will delve into the intricate aspects of implementing a digital safety culture on a construction site, reflecting the industry’s innovative spirit.